Getting Treatment for Ritalin Addiction
Ritalin can help a person with ADHD maintain better focus and a person with narcolepsy stay awake. Non-medical use, however, comes with a number of risks. If you have a Ritalin addiction, seek treatment at a recovery center.
Before choosing a rehab program, there are a couple things to consider.
- Which type of substance abuse treatment is right for you?
- How will you pay for recovery?
- If you are seeking a program for your teen, which type of treatment is right for them?
It can also help to learn more about the treatment process for Ritalin addiction before you enter a program so you know what to expect.
Is Ritalin Addictive?
Helpline Information if you or someone you love is suffering from Ritalin dependency. Don’t wait until more serious symptoms appear–it’s never too early to begin recovery.
Discussions about addiction to prescription drugs tend to revolve around opioids or painkillers. Many people don’t realize that prescription stimulants like Ritalin can also be addictive, and they often don’t know where to turn to find Ritalin recovery programs once they discover they have a problem. Since Ritalin is a legal prescription drug that is often administered to children and young adults, many individuals may also be worried about whether they are using the drug appropriately or abusing it.
Like cocaine, Ritalin increases dopamine levels in a person’s brain, boosting productivity and alertness when properly controlled.Cocaine is generally taken in higher doses and in a way that provides the fastest delivery, which means the drug creates a flood of dopamine in the brain within a few minutes. This is what causes the feeling of being high and makes cocaine both addictive and very dangerous.
Some users will even crush up the Ritalin pills and either snort the powder or combine it with water and inject the drug to get an immediate high. These uses can place the user at increased risk of developing substance abuse and dependency.4 Abusing Ritalin by taking quantities greater than the prescribed amount or breaking it up in order to snort it changes the way the medication interacts with the body. In these cases, Ritalin delivers a cocaine-like impact and can become addictive.
When taken as prescribed, Ritalin should not have the same impact and should not be addictive. Oral Ritalin dosages are designed to release dopamine at a slower rate, reducing the effect on the brain.
Signs and Symptoms of Ritalin Addiction
The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified Ritalin as a Schedule II substance, meaning it is officially recognized as having a high potential for abuse. 5
The signs and symptoms of Ritalin abuse are similar to those of amphetamines:4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
- Panic states.
- Some psychotic symptoms following extensive short-term use.
Why People Abuse Ritalin
Ritalin is a stimulant medication that is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).3 Its active ingredient is called methylphenidate, which is a central nervous system stimulant that changes the levels of certain chemicals in the brain–mainly the neurotransmitter dopamine.
People use Ritalin non-medically for its stimulant effects.
- As a “party drug” it can keep the user awake longer and produce feelings of euphoria.
- College students use it to study and cram for exams because it keeps them awake and can increase their focus.
- Some people use it for weight loss, because stimulants decrease a person’s appetite and increase their energy levels.
Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem. In 2009, more Americans reported nonmedical prescription pill use than cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined. 1 Among the abused prescription drugs, Ritalin has been reported to be the most common stimulant to be taken non-medically. 2
A high number of young adults can acquire doctor-prescribed stimulant medications without a prescription. This can lead to rampant abuse. But where do college-age people get the medications?
A 2016 Recovery Brands survey revealed that 63% of young men and women between 18 and 28 years old acquire ADHD prescription medications through friends. More than 20% get access to them from family members, 18.5% via classmates, and less than 15% from a dealer.
Medical stimulant users should keep tabs on their medications to protect vulnerable young people from stimulant misuse.
How Much Does Treatment Cost?
The cost of Ritalin addiction treatment will vary depending on the type of program, length of treatment, location and insurance coverage.
- Inpatient treatment tends to cost more than outpatient treatment.
- Longer treatment plans cost more than shorter ones.
- Urban treatment programs tend to cost more than rural ones.
Using Insurance to Pay for Treatment
Rehab insurance coverage varies by insurance plan. Medicaid and Medicare cover substance abuse screening, but not always the actual treatment–this varies by state. Healthcare marketplace (government-organized) insurance plans will also cover treatment to differing degrees, depending on the state.
Private insurance coverage varies widely. But the Affordable Care Act ensures that plans must cover substance abuse treatment to the same extent that they cover other medical health issues.
Paying for Ritalin Rehab Without Insurance
If you do not have insurance, you still have options to make treatment affordable:
- Health insurance exchange–Government-sponsored health insurance that offers plans at affordable prices, sometimes even for free, depending on income.
- Payment plan–Spread the cost of treatment across monthly payments over the course of a predetermined amount of time.
- Sliding scale–A fee structure based on your income and ability to pay, so treatment costs will vary by the amount that you can afford.
- Financing options–Options include credit cards, personal loans, home equity loans, some specialized loans.
- Rehab scholarships–The facility will cover part or all of the cost of treatment.
What Types of Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment Are Available?
Each person has different reasons they became addicted and requires different approaches to treatment. The amount of time a person spends in treatment is affected by these individual factors.
Inpatient treatment entails a stay at a recovery center for an extended period of time. The facility provides around-the-clock care and a sober living environment to give you an escape from the life that led to your abuse.
The type of care you receive at an inpatient facility will vary by the type of program.
- Residential rehab: You engage in both group and individual therapy sessions during your stay in the sober facility and are completely removed from your everyday life. This can involve different lengths of stay for different needs:
- 30-day stays are the most common and most effective for people in the earlier stages of abuse and addiction.
- 60-day stays allow you to build up stronger relationships and support networks with your therapists and fellow recovering peers.
- 90-day stays allow you more time to develop recovery and relapse prevention skills.
- Luxury treatment: You stay in a facility that focuses on comfort and luxury, including different amenities to make the stay more relaxing. You receive around-the-clock care and treatment tailored specifically to your needs.
- Executive or CEO rehab treatment: The treatment center is similar to the luxury programs with a focus on comfort, around-the-clock care and personalized treatment plans. But you also have access to amenities that allow you to continue to work such as an Internet connection, meeting rooms and offices.
Outpatient treatment allows you to continue to live and work on recovery from home. Some people have home responsibilities that they cannot take time away from. Outpatient drug rehabilitation gives these people a recovery option that works with their needs.
Different types of outpatient Ritalin addiction recovery include:
- Counseling and therapy: You meet with a counselor/therapist (both group and individual) as your schedule allows. The therapist helps you better understand your addiction, including why you began abusing Ritalin in the first place and how to prevent relapse.
- Intensive outpatient: You are involved in many different parts of recovery treatment, including therapy (both group and individual), addiction education, substance use monitoring, community support groups, 24-hour crisis help, career training and family counseling.
- Partial hospitalization: You live at home but come in to the treatment center multiple times throughout the week for therapy and medical monitoring.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab
Inpatient Ritalin recovery may be better if you are suffering from a long-standing addiction or have relapsed before. Outpatient Ritalin rehabilitation can provide quality care for less severe cases.
With both types of treatment, aftercare is a vital aspect of recovery. Aftercare involves continued therapy and other support groups such as 12-step programs.
The Matrix Model is a 16 week, outpatient treatment program designed specifically for the treatment of stimulant addiction and promotes self-worth and dignity, while providing the patient with support, encouragement, education, and the skills needed to make a positive behavior change. If you’re addicted to Ritalin, this model is recommended to maximize recovery and decrease the risk of relapse. It includes:
- Relapse-prevention groups.
- Education groups.
- Social-support groups.
- Individual counseling.
- Urine and breath testing.
12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are free treatment support programs that follow a set of 12 pre-determined steps to recovery. They focus on making amends with yourself, friends and family and a higher power-however you choose to define that higher power.
Some people suffer from both Ritalin addiction and mental or physical health issues. This is known as dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders, and it often requires special treatment approaches. Extreme Ritalin abuse has even been associated with an earlier onset of psychosis in at-risk people,12 as well as heart problems, including heart attacks, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and strokes. 3, 13
What Does Treatment Include?
Helpline Information to get more information on rehab programs in your area and verify your insurance coverage.
When a person enters a Ritalin rehab facility, they are choosing to improve their life. Knowing what to expect can help make the experience easier. The general treatment course involves some core aspects that can get expanded upon to individualize a person’s plan.
The core principles of Ritalin treatment include:
Upon entering the program, you will meet with a professional to discuss your treatment plan.
Intake will include answering questions such as:
- What type of treatment is best for your needs?
- How long will you engage in formal treatment?
- What kind of aftercare do you want?
Ritalin detox involves getting all traces of the drug out of your body. Detox should be professionally monitored, as Ritalin withdrawal can cause serious depression and other worsening symptoms.3 You may be prescribed medications to ease Ritalin withdrawal symptoms (antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, sleep aids) or a replacement ADHD/narcolepsy medication, such as Adderall.
Group and individual therapy will help you learn how to cope with cravings and prevent relapse. With Ritalin, therapy focuses on why you began abusing the drug and how to address these root problems. Effective treatment will take extra time to address the various mental health problems associated with Ritalin abuse and withdrawal (depression, anxiety, mood changes, aggression, and potential hallucinations).
Continued care is a vital part of maintaining abstinence when you return to normal day-to-day living.
Some types of aftercare include sustained therapy and counseling to deal with cravings and work on relapse prevention skills, 12-step programs and other community support groups, and sober living arrangements where you live in a community of recovering sober peers
What Other Factors Should You Look for in a Rehab Program?
Make sure the staff are qualified and have experience treating prescription drug abuse.
- Location. Some people find that staying close to home offers them the most comfort and support in moving forward. Others need to leave the original abuse environment entirely.
- Staff. Program staff should be qualified professionals with the proper certifications. These requirements vary by state. But they generally include a college degree in a field related to addiction therapy and a certain number of training hours in alcohol and drug counseling.
- Family involvement. For some, family may be part of the reason for the original Ritalin abuse. For others, family is a strong source of support through the transformation into abstinent living.
- Specialization. Prescription drug abuse, especially Ritalin, can involve a particular set of challenges. Because of this, it is important to look for a program that specializes or has experience treating prescriptions drugs or Ritalin specifically.
Are There Treatment Programs for Teens?
Prescription stimulants are getting increasingly abused, especially among the adolescent population. In fact, methylphenidate (Ritalin) is the prescription stimulant with the highest prevalence of recreational use among teens. 14 Rates of non-medical Ritalin use among college students have been reported to be as high as 16%. 15
Ritalin abuse among teens and college students is especially risky because it can cause chemical alterations in the developing brain, with changes that may last into adulthood. 16, 17 In addition, methylphenidate may be related to changes to a person’s actual genetics, 18, 19 though this evidence is not conclusive.
Types of Teen Addiction Treatment
A Ritalin-abusing teen should get professional treatment as soon as possible. Many teens find it more comfortable to go through the recovery process among their peers. Teen-specific treatment programs exist all around the country, and adolescent treatment involves similar program types as adult Ritalin abuse treatment.
- Inpatient treatment: The teen stays at a facility specific to adolescent substance abuse treatment, with therapy sessions addressing struggles particular to adolescence.
- Outpatient treatment: The teen lives at home but attends regular counseling and therapy sessions aimed specifically at teenagers, including group therapy with fellow recovering peers.
- 12-step programs: A community support group of similarly aged peers follows the 12 steps to recovery.
- Wilderness programs: A community of recovering teens work through their abuse problem in a natural wilderness setting, emphasizing finding satisfaction and happiness without the use of drugs.
Differences Between Teen and Adult Programs
The main difference between adult rehab programs and teen rehab programs is the age of the community involved.
Adolescent programs will also address teen-specific issues, such as:
- Struggles of self-esteem development.
- Peer pressure.
- Dealing with hormonal changes.
- Coping with family or home issues.
- Scholastic pressures.
It is important that a teen recovery program involve the family in treatment, as home life plays a major role in an adolescent’s life. It is also important that the program is able to address a potential dual diagnosis, as many teens suffer from mental health problems during these turbulent and significant years.
Find a Ritalin Rehabilitation Center
Ritalin abuse brings a whole set of risks and potential damage, both to a person’s physical health as well as their mental health. If you are concerned about the Ritalin use of yourself or a loved one, call 1-888-319-2606 Helpline Information now to speak with one of our recovery specialists about getting into a drug abuse rehabilitation program right away.
. SAMHSA. (2010). Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-38A, HHS Publication No. SMA 10-4586Findings). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
. Kroutil, L. A., Van Brunt, D. L., Herman-Stahl, M. A., Heller, D. C., Bray, R. M., & Penne, M. A. (2006). Nonmedical use of prescription stimulants in the United States. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 84 (2), 135-143.
. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). Methylphenidate. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682188.html
. Morton, W. A., & Stockton, G. G. (2000). Methylphenidate abuse and psychiatric side effects. Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2 (5). 159-164.
. University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research. (2013). Ritalin. Available at: http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ritalin.asp#15
. Rappley, M. D. (1997). Safety issues in the use of methylphenidate: an American perspective. Drug Safety, 17. 143-148.
. McEvoy, G. K., ed. American Hospital Formulatory Service Drug Information. (1999). Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists. 2038-2040.
. Kroft, C., & Cole, J. O. (1992). Adverse behavioral effects of psychostimulants. In: Kane, J. M., & Lieberman, J. A., eds. Adverse Effects of Psychotropic Drugs. New York, NY: Guilford Press. 159.
. Wender, P.H. (1998). Pharmacotherapy of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adults. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59 (7). 76-79.
. Segal, D. S., & Janowsky, D. S. (1978). Psychostimulant-induced behavioral effects: possible models of schizophrenia. In: Lipton, M. A., DiMascio, A., & Killam, K. F., eds. Psychopharmacology: A Generation of Progress. New York, NY: Raven Press. 1113-1122.
. Volavka, J. (1995). Neurobiology of violence. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press. 203-205.
. Moran, L. V. et. al. (2015). Prescription stimulant use is associated with earlier onset of psychosis. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 71. 41-47.
. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Medication Guide: Ritalin. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm089090.pdf
. SAMHSA. (2003). Results from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
. Babcock, Q., & Byrne, T. (2000). Student perceptions of methylphenidate abuse at a public liberal arts college. Journal of American College Health, 49. 143-145.
. U.S. National Institutes of Health. NIDA Study Shows That Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Causes Neuronal Changes in Brain Reward Areas. Press release, February 2, 2009, available at: http://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nida-study-shows-methylphenidate-ritalin-causes-neuronal-changes-brain-reward-areas
. Van Der Marel, K., et. al. (2014). Long-term oral methylphenidate treatment in adolescent and adult rats: differential effects on brain morphology and function. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39. 263-273.
. El-Zein, R. A., et. al. (2005). Cytogenetic effects in children treated with methylphenidate. Cancer Letters xx. 1-8.
. Andreazza, A. C., et. al. (2007). DNA damage in rats after treatment with methylphenidate. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 31 (6). 1282-1288.
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